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MikeRichardson

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  1. The updated HCTRA.CO site is now live: https://hctra.co Now featuring Sans-Serif fonts! Finally joining the 21st century 😛
  2. What if you instead looked at it this way? I personally almost never take the toll roads. I go to see my mom almost every week for Sunday dinner (driving from Westheimer to 249), and those trips occur on State Highway Beltway 8 (aka the feeder), instead of the toll road. Out of ~100 trips (50 x 2) in the past year, I took the toll road only twice due to extenuating circumstances. However, I still benefit from "[the diversion of] money from HCTRA to use on other government functions, with initial withdrawals being used to supplement flood control funds" as stated by "Houston Freeways author Oscar Slotboom" on MaxConcrete's blog. I am enjoying those improvements without having really contributed any money whatsoever (not even $10 total in total tolls spent). So is that like I am not paying taxes in those cases??? I don't see at _all_ how it's fair that the toll road users alone should be paying for these massive improvements to flood control and roads unrelated to the toll roads. If we want to improve non-toll roads and flood control we need to pass the appropriate tax increases and/or bonds (as we did with the flood bond post Harvey, that I voted for). There is an infamous rumor that HCTRA promised to make the toll roads free after the bonds were paid off. In fact, the rumor is true. Unfortunately, the only original proof is on an old ABC13 article, which I link to from my alternate site at https://hctra.us. Fortunately, HCTRA actually provides proof in every contemporary financial report they have published! Here is their statement from the FY2010 report (source http://hctra.co/financials/Toll Road FY2010.pdf): But HCTRA keeps "[diverting] money from HCTRA to use on other government functions". Hundreds of millions of dollars a year! How could they *ever* pay off their obligations in Note 7 under such conditions? Not to mention the "pooling of projects" (exact term might be different) which occurred in a commissioners' court meeting approximately two weeks after 9/11 (source http://hctra.co/commissioners/0119ag.pdf), which basically blends the financials for all of the toll roads all together instead of each one being a separate project. That makes the proposal on MaxConcrete's blog "toll removal should be facilities which have generated far more revenue than their original cost... the original three sections of the Sam Houston Tollway" almost if not completely impossible! The entire System, in my opinion, has been carefully orchestrated to be never-ending, and to make up for shortfalls in the County budget that are more appropriately addressed by other means (issuance of bonds and/or tax increase and/or reduction of budget in other areas, etc.)
  3. The fried chicken is pretty good, with a sale every Monday. I do see a lot of people carrying that out (from the 2 stores I frequent - haven't been to Midtown in a few years and only a few times since it opened). If they'd just advertise the "no card needed now" angle they'd surely regain a not insignificant number of customers who are turned off by the card. You can attribute this to Albertson's being the apparently successor company out of the Safeway/Albertson's merger. (Besides, who needs those cards to track people anymore? You can just track them using their Debit or Credit Card #, or maybe Bluetooth/WiFi pings off their phone.) Maybe put the Boar's Head back, I honestly could give a crap, but I've seen a lot of people grousing about that. There are still some benefits to the card, you still get the gas points and also a free item every month. The points are redeemable at either Shell or Chevron, I forget which one it is now (as well as the Randalls gas stations all 5 or whatever of them).
  4. So, I don't want to suggest this as a general policy. But I was basically ~ok~ with that during the worst of the pandemic you know? I still had drive to my mom's place weekly, you know? Her car is fu**ed up. I'd bring her groceries and stuff. And who was right there on my way? Memorial Dr. Randalls. Awesome store there.
  5. Updates: FY 2019, 2020, and 2021 have been added to the site. (HCTRA has a nasty habit of deleting these after they get too old. We will archive every year in perpetuity.) Also, the PDF names have been standardized. Please feel free to link directly to PDFs in the Financials directory. https://hctra.co/financials/ Luminare makes a valid point here, I will be updating the main page soon since it now contains inaccurate information.
  6. So, it looks like all Houston area Sears have closed. :(
  7. So here's a letter I wrote to Randalls the other day. I submitted using their app, which has always gotten a response for other issues I have complained about using said app. In summary: Randalls, please grow some balls and actually f*cking compete in this market! Edit: The below mentioned Westheimer store was historically a 24 hour store long ago. Randalls' operation of 24 hour stores is mentioned in this Houston Press article: https://www.houstonpress.com/news/where-are-they-when-you-need-them-6573131 and I also have an old picture of the Westheimer store (9660 Pre Rebuild) with 24 hour signage somewhere.
  8. I just saw an actual Randall's TV commercial on one of the Vizio/Pluto Watch Free channels on my TV! It was short (15 seconds), and probably generic - "Visit your local INSERT_STORE_NAME_HERE today" - but it was a legitimate ad for Randall's.
  9. Chron.com has posted more pictures of Boris Yeltsin visiting Randalls #30. It has been said that Yeltsin "was so overwhelmed by the variety of food that his faith in Communism was shattered." It wasn't even a Flagship Randall's. Now it's a Food Town. https://www.chron.com/neighborhood/bayarea/news/article/When-Boris-Yeltsin-went-grocery-shopping-in-Clear-5759129.php
  10. Saw this on Facebook today. At least Randalls is advertising ***somewhere*** still. Pretty smart too I'd say since they could target zip codes in Houston where they still have actual goddamned stores... Randalls now has more Austin area stores than Houston which is quite "Remarkable" when you think about it.
  11. Not really surprising. Still sucks though. My old office was in that area so I was usually in that Randalls at least twice a week.
  12. My Kenmore washer is from 1986. I was born in 1988. It's older than I am. My mom bought some fancy new model and so I took the old washer off her hands. All it needed was a ~$20 lid switch that I got from a Sears Parts Store and installed myself around 2015, back when such stores still existed. I got my dryer, new (a Whirlpool) from a Sears Outlet store shortly after I got the old washer (in 2015). Right now I live in an apartment that provides the washer and dryer, but when I buy a house, I intend to use the old Kenmore washer until it dies (and the Whirlpool dryer). They both work fine still.
  13. I might have a pic of the Walmart in Meyerland when it was still a "Baby" (i.e. non Super Walmart) Store. The Meyerland store and then the Westview store were the last two remaining Houston area stores to not be converted to "SuperCenter Walmart". First Meyerland was converted. So the very last store to be converted was the Westview store.
  14. Oddly enough, I think the Coronavirus has been the saving grace of Randalls for 2020. My friends mostly live in the suburbs and go to Kroger and HEB. Whereas I live off Westheimer and S. Gessner within walking distance of a Randalls, and driving distance of several other stores. At least among the informal discussions with my friends: I was the first one to find Hand Sanitizer for sale, at Randalls (9660 Westheimer). Later I was the first to find Isopropyl Alcohol (rubbing alcohol) for sale, again at Randalls (12850 Memorial). I shop at both stores consistently. I remember after Harvey too. I was living in the same area back then as well (Westchase). I drove first to the Kroger at 9919 Westheimer. The line literally snaked around behind the building, just to get inside. So I drove just a bit further to the Randalls. There, I could get inside right away, and they had fresh meat there, and some vegetables. I was able to pick some stuff up and then make the long awkward ~2.5 hour trek out to my mom's house. (She's around Beltway 8 and 1960, but I had to drive all the way out to the Grand Parkway just to cross the reservoirs). I really do hope Randalls sticks around at least in some form. Reduction of competition has shown to be universally bad for the consumer.
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